BREAKING NEWS!! Lisa Gail Green's debut novel, The Binding Stone, released yesterday! She's my writing buddy, and I'm super excited for her. Click here to grab your own copy of this awesome YA book.
And now on to my regular post...
I recently finished reading BRUISED, by Sarah Skilton. Bruised was a great book with an amazing voice and many powerful moments. Sarah is a friend of mine, but this isn't friendship talking--this is a reader praising a worthy book.
When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else--more responsible, more capable. But now her sense of self has been challenged and she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shootout. With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world--full of dark humor and hard truths.
Here are some of the writing lessons I learned from this powerful book:
- Open with a snapshot of the major incident--When the book begins, the shootout had already happened. It didn't give a blow by blow of the shootout, only glimpses from Imogen's broken memory. Details of the shootout are dispersed throughout the book. Then Imogen describes the hard work that went into earning a black belt, ending the chapter with this powerful line: "My black belt represents everything I could've done and everything I didn't do, the only time it really mattered."
- Connect love interest through tragedy--We meet Ricky, the love interest, right away. Like Imogen, he hid under a table while the shootout happened. He understands her fears and her struggle to merge back into real life. Ricky wants to learn how to fight, and Imogen teaches him. This connects them beyond school and family.
- Use humor to lighten a dark subject--The author does a great job of injecting humor in unlikely places. It's not just humor for shock value, it's embedded in the character. There's a line in there about a weed whacker that still cracks me up. This wasn't a funny book, but the character's way of looking at life made me smile.
- Sprinkle in unanswered questions--Some questions are answered right away, but there are questions about the shootout that linger on until later chapters. I'd forget about these missing details until the author strategically reminded me. It kept me wondering what I didn't know yet.
- Forgotten past--When characters suffer a traumatic experience, authors can use this to create more mystery. Imogen thinks she cowered under a table during the entire robbery, but then she wonders, why was there blood all over my clothes? It's a mystery, and the author allows the reader and Imogen to discover the truth together.
Miranda Kenneally, author of Catching Jordan, said this about Bruised: "Raw and real, Bruised is an important read for all teens, especially those who feel they've lost their way. This beautiful book shows the true power of sports."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Have you read Bruised? What's your opinion of these writing lessons? Have you used them in your own work?